Tech Ops – they just don’t cut it
Years ago, having learned my craft at BBC Radio Cumbria and then at Red Rose, I was known as something of an editing wizard. Armed with nothing more than a pointed chinagraph, a keen ear, fast hands and an appreciation of editing techniques, I could turn a shambolic interview into something of a polished product. Miles of 1/4 inch tape around my neck, a good memory of where bits of tape went and a love of the job itself was all that was required.
In fact, one of my first tasks was to get bits of old tape from half used spools and edit them together into larger spools so that it could be re-used some time in the future. God help you if you got the tape the wrong way round! Exciting times back then was when a magnetic bulk eraser was purchased and you could wipe loads of stuff at once, sometimes even your digital watch. As life progressed, I lost the knack of showing people how to edit but I missed this simple pleasure. It gave me a strange sense of peace and in those days there were no mobile phones to distract your attention.
Last week I asked my son Scott, who produces Hirsty’s daily dose at Capital FM Yorkshire, to show me how to edit digitally. What a farce. I thought this was supposed to speed things up. Instead, people spend hours on the smallest detail, I am convinced they don’t know when done is done. The result is that it can take twice as long to do anything and I have come to the conclusion that editing digitally is really lazy editing in reality. This is not progress, anyone can do it. I wonder if people prepare aswell because they can usually fix things in the edit?
I can recall when you did the most you could do, as well as you could do it, the first time around and editing, while possible, was often regarded as a personal failure. I am convinced that the skill of the editor was higher in the past. In those days, your most valued gift was a stop watch, you had to count the time to when you started the music beneath the words so that you didn’t crash the vocals, or any key production segment. Today, you cut this, flick that, swap from one bit to the other, speed it up and change so much that it looks slightly too easy for those who like to reflect on the ‘good old days’ when a razor blade was a deadly weapen. It was your light-saber and it could slice you to bits. God knows how the ‘health and safety officer’ today would have dealt with this!
Look at that picture above. Some see a tape machine, I see pure joy, hours of sex. A past love, a cherished memory. Granted, on large productions digital may have its benefits, but I would bet that even today, I could more than match anyone for speed and accuracy with my Revox verses one of these digital editing computers with their tiny buttons and hidden effects. I could edit faster, smarter and get the job done in half the time.
Tech ops, producers… jeezus. you don’t know you’re born. You just don’t cut it.
PS. I also liked those big jingle cart machines with enormous buttons. They worked every time unlike the ‘next’ button… Ah, the good old days. What do you miss?